American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Alone, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Symmetry Spire

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999


Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Symmetry Spire

On October 12 at 1600, I received a call from Barbara Lachmar of Logan, UT, who stated that her husband Tom Lachmar (45) had not returned from a climbing trip to the Tetons. She was only able to give me information on the vehicle he was driving, and that he had left on the night of the 10th with a plan to climb the next day and drive back that evening.

I called Teton dispatch and requested that a road patrol ranger begin looking for Lachmar’s vehicle at the numerous trailheads in the South District of the park. Additionally, I requested that the Permits Office search the computer database for any record of a backcountry overnight permit or a Voluntary Mountaineering Registration. The vehicle was located at the String Lake trailhead at 1650.

At 1737, I requested that the Bridger-Teton contract helicopter report tothe Lupine Meadows heli-base. During the final hour of remaining daylight, I at least wanted to conduct an aerial reconnaissance of the primary hiking routes available from this trailhead.

In the rapidly diminishing daylight, about 1815, the subject was found in the upper reaches of the couloir immediately west of the Southwest Ridge of Symmetry Spire. We were able to confirm that he was injured, and made the decision to attempt to insert one rescuer and then short-haul the climber out via “screamer” suit. The operation was completed by 1855, and Lachmar was transferred to a ground ambulance for evaluation of his injuries. Lachmar was given strong recommendation to seek initial treatment at St. John’s Hospital, but he declined, and was taken to his car. He drove home and was admitted to Logan Regional Hospital, where he received treatment for a fractured left clavicle and three separate fractures to his pelvis.


Lachmar’s intention was to do a day climb of the East Ridge of Symmetry Spire, and then descend via the rappels from the notch on the upper portion of the Southwest Ridge. He had successfully completed the first long rappel and was in the process of down climbing to the second rappel when he fell about “five to seven feet.” The accident occurred about 1545. He spent the night there, and then started making his way down the next day.

Climbers will continue to be encouraged to let someone responsible know exactly where they intend to go and when they are expected to return. Lachmar was well equipped for a day climb. He is fortunate that the injuries he sustained were not life threatening. (Source: From a report by SAR Ranger Renny Jackson)

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